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How to Create a Style Sheet for Your Manuscript

If you’ve been writing books for long, you may have come across the challenge of keeping the details straight so that you can be consistent throughout the book. If the hero has blue eyes on page 1, he shouldn’t have green eyes on page 50. If your non-fiction book capitalizes “Servant Leadership” in the first…
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Telling Your Personal Story

Telling Your Personal Story

Dear Rachelle, People are always telling me, “You should write a book!” For years I have been ignoring them, but more and more people are telling me that I shouldn’t let my experiences be wasted, that I need to share them because they are not only inspirational, they will make people laugh, make them cry, and…
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Who Should Read Your Unpublished Work?

One of the most common pieces of advice writers are given is: Get outside feedback. Published or not, writers typically show their work to beta readers, critique partners, friends, family members or anyone who will read it, to get feedback before submitting to an editor, agent or publisher. I’m one of those who frequently gives…
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Does Story Trump Craft?

We’ve discussed various aspects of writing many times on this blog, including the importance of mastering the craft along with how crucial it is to have a terrific story (or for non-fiction, a strong, compelling topic). Having been an editor for years and an aficionado of both literary and genre fiction, I’ve always advocated the…
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4 Tips for Writing a Quick First Draft

National Novel Writing Month starts in three weeks! For those who don’t know what this is, you can go to the NaNoWriMo site here and learn all about it. The point is to write a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. I think it’s great for discipline and for getting that first…
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JR Parsons

Six Ways to Avoid Becoming a Literary Mimic

Guest Blogger: JR Parsons Call me Katniss. Some seconds ago–it’s not important how many–feeling lonely and cold in my bed, and finding not the warmth of my sister beside me but only the rough canvas mattress cover, I thought about the bad dreams that must have disturbed her sleep and caused her to search in…
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Girl reading

What Makes a Blog or a Book Compelling?

Whether we’re talking about blogs, non-fiction books, or novels, one of the most crucial elements in making it compelling to readers is authenticity. When something is written from your deepest truth; when you’ve put your heart and passion into it, the reader can tell. In my mind, this is another way of saying, “Write what…
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When Should You Write Your Memoir?

I just finished reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, a memoir by Cheryl Strayed. This is an incredible book, a bestseller since its release in March, about the author’s 1,100 (that’s eleven hundred) mile solo hike through California and Oregon. She undertook the hike as a way of coping with devastating…
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Farewell to Arms

6 Things To Learn from Hemingway

Over the last year or so, I’ve been re-reading some Ernest Hemingway. The more I read, and the more I learn about his approach to writing and his work habits, the more I’m in awe of his genius. I’ve come to see him as a remarkable example that serious writers would do well to study…
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9 Ways to Outwit Writer’s Block

*Or get out of a rut 1. Read a chapter of your WIP aloud to someone other than your cat. Invite feedback, if you’re brave. But mostly, just listen as you read. Do the words flow easily, roll nicely off the tongue? Do you stumble anywhere? Anything sound awkward? How’s the dialogue? Option: Record yourself…
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cutting snowflakes

How to Cut Thousands of Words Without Shedding a Tear

Strategies for Writers, part 3 of 3 Is your book too long? Does it feel a bit wordy, perhaps slightly bloated? Or . . . does it feel perfect but it’s a little high in word count? There comes a time in every writer’s life when they need to reduce their word count. Ack! Not my…
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Classic books

How Important Is Your Book Title?

I was talking to a writer who mentioned she hadn’t worked too hard to come up with a great title for her book. When I asked her why, she said she’d been to a workshop taught by an editor at a major publishing house, who said, “Don’t get too attached to your title — there’s a good…
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Storyteller or Writer?

Dear Rachelle, I’ve been querying agents, and the responses I’ve received indicate that my novel-writing isn’t up to par. I understand that — I have a full-time career and I’m not a writer by trade. But I’m a storyteller and want to share my stories with others. So…I began wondering if there is another way I could…
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You Are Not Tolstoy or Dickens

Whenever I talk about the guidelines and conventions that are expected in today’s fiction—for example, don’t go overboard with description, or… show, don’t tell—I always get writers pushing back with the classic “classics” argument. They’ll say things like, “But what about Charlotte Bronte? What about F. Scott Fitzgerald? You’d probably reject THEM if they came…
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I love words.

I love books and publishing and talking incessantly about them.

I love authors and all the intricacies of managing a writing life.

I sell. I negotiate. I coach. I brainstorm.

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